Press Release
May 20, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today clarified that the senators have not yet made a stand on the proposal of Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws, that the Senate and House of Representatives can propose amendments to the Constitution like enacting ordinary laws without the need for holding joint sessions.

There is no decision yet on this issue in the Senate because we have not yet discussed it, Pimentel said.

He advised Gordon to brief the senators on his proposal before bringing this up in his dialogue with Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Constantino Jaraulla, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments and revision on laws. The bicameral dialogue is being pursued in accordance with an agreement between the leaders of the Senate and House during the meeting of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) in Malacañang Tuesday.

We want to talk to Sen. Gordon so that we can resolve this issue and so that we will know what to do, the minority leader said.

Pimentel said that the senators expect a discussion on the Gordon proposal on Monday, or a day before his scheduled meeting with Jaraulla.

He pointed out that there are three recognized modes of amending the Constitution: 1. Congress acting as constituent assembly; 2. Constitutional Convention; and 3. peoples initiative.

Based on the first method, the Senate and House of Representatives may agree to hold joint sessions to initiate amendments to the Constitution. As such, they function as a Constituent Assembly.

Pimentel said this method will not take off for as long as the administration congressmen, led by Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr., insist on their proposition that the Senate and House should vote jointly on every amendment.

He said there is no way the senators will veer away from their stand that every amendment should be voted upon separately by the Senate and House as prescribed by the 1987 Constitution.

To resolve the impasse, Gordon took the position that there is no need for both chambers of Congress to hold joint session for the purpose of initiating amendments. He said the 1987 Constitution does not specifically provide for a Constituent Assembly as a mode for changing the Charter.

There is no need for a Constituent Assembly because the Constitution is very clear that any senator or congressman can propose to amend the Constitution or even revise the Constitution by a mere resolution, in which case it is treated as an ordinary piece of legislation which can be referred to the standing committee of each house, Gordon said.

And when its approved by three-fourths vote (by both chambers), it becomes a proposed amendment to the Constitution which is then submitted to a plebiscite.

Pimentel stressed the need for the senators to thoroughly analyze and discuss the Gordon proposal especially insofar as ascertaining its conformity with the Constitution.

He noted that the Gordon proposal was met with strong objections by the legislative allies of the administration for allegedly being unconstitutional.

Pimentel said the constitutionality of the Gordon proposal must be fully resolved, otherwise it will further aggravate the discord between the Senate and House over Charter Change.

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